Matthew 9:9-13: Matthew the Tax Collector
Posted by adventbiblestudy on November 4, 2011
Matthew 9:9-13 MKJV And as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax-office. And He said to him, Follow Me! And he aros:e and followed Him. (10) And it happened as Jesus reclined in the house, behold, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Him and His disciples. (11) And when the Pharisees saw, they said to His disciples, Why does your master eat with tax-collectors and sinners? (12) But when Jesus heard, He said to them, The ones who are whole do not need a physician, but the ones who are sick. (13) But go and learn what this is, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Jesus stopped to observe the scene at a tax collectors booth. A young man was pleading with the tax collector, “please sir, forgive me. This is all we have. We have no money left for our evening meal.” The man’s young wife stood behind him, holding two young children close to her. It was a most embarrassing situation for both the man and his wife, but less painful than the penalty they would pay if the tax collector decided to report them, and file formal charges. It was not unusual for tax collectors to extract additional sums of money for personal gain. Many were dulled to corruption, feeling little or no remorse for the suffering masses they served.
Jesus’ sharp eyes did not miss what was happening. The tax collector put his hand over a coin, sliding it across the table as he put his hand on top of the young man’s hand, patting it in a show of pity. “Don’t worry young man, you are only a few pennies short. I will make a record of it this time, but next time I may not be so understanding.” The man, feeling a bit shocked, picked up the coin in his hand, hiding it from the site of others. “I thank you sir, and I will not let you down. Bless you sir.” Jesus continued to watch as the tax collector opened his purse, counted out a few coins, placed them on the tax chest along with the rest of the money, and recorded the transaction in his ledger. Jesus walked up to Matthew the tax collector and said, “Follow Me!” And he arose and followed Him.
Matthew not only followed Jesus, he couldn’t wait to catch up and walk next to Him. Matthew was not shy about asking, “are you Jesus, I mean the real Jesus, the healer?” Jesus answered, “yes, I am.” Matthew could not believe he was walking next to the famous healer and teacher. It took him a minute to think of another question. “How do you do it?” Jesus wanted to test him, so He asked, “do what?” Matthew replied, “the healing. How do you heal people?” Jesus gave him a minute to think of the question he asked, then answered, “how do you give people back their tax money?” The answer stopped Matthew in his tracks. He watched Jesus walk away while trying to understand the connection.
Suddenly Matthew got an idea. Running back up to Jesus, he invited Him to dinner. “I have a few friends coming to dinner this evening. I would be honored if you would be my guest. That is you and your friends.” Jesus stopped, turned to the three disciples with him, and asked, “should we accept our new friend’s offer?” His disciples gave Jesus a strange look, wondering why He would ask them such a question. John answered, “yes,” for the group. John could tell Jesus was looking past him to the group of Pharisees assigned to follow them for the day.
To John it seemed strange the priests, Pharisees, and scribes listened to Jesus, but could not understand Him. Maybe it was because they would only follow for a day. The next day another group was assigned to spy on them. But there were so many other people who came to listen to Jesus for one day and appeared to understand. John began to think, did those people really understand what Jesus was teaching? Did one day with Jesus really change their lives? John glanced behind him at the group of Pharisees following them today, and questioned, will something happen today that will reach these people? Weren’t the miracles enough to convince these people, Jesus was the Son of God?
During the entire journey Matthew talked off everyone’s ears, telling them all about his friends. He was so excited about bringing Jesus home to meet all of them. This was the proudest moment in Matthew’s life.
It did not take long for them to arrive at Matthew’s home. Not an over extravagant home. Much better than the average resident, but not as elaborate as some. The decor was simple. It lacked the feminine touch. Jesus noticed the lack of decorative accessories found in other homes of this size. More often than not, homes of this size were often decorated with images of mingled religions, as if the occupants kept them around just in case, to make their guests feel at ease, or as a show of status.
Matthew quickly arranged his guests at the table announcing, “my friends will be here soon.” The Pharisees waited outside in the court yard with a full view of the dining room. It took them a few minutes of debate to enter the courtyard, there was no way they would sit down to a meal with a tax collector. Their status would not allow such a thing.
After a short wait, other guests began to arrive, the Pharisees taking careful note of each guest. Most of them they knew, from the tax collection tables throughout the city. Matthew’s friends were also tax collectors. They saw something in Matthew they respected, his honesty, and the way he treated them and others as friends. Tax collectors did not have many friends. The Pharisees, who had a great amount of influence over the people, blamed the tax collectors for a certain amount of Judah’s demise. They disliked them as much as the Roman forces occupying their land.
When it seemed everyone arrived, and the meal was about to begin, one of the Pharisees shouting from the courtyard asked His disciples, “Why does your master eat with tax-collectors and sinners?” Jesus could not help but hear the rude interruption. Instead of allowing His disciples to enter into a conversation with the Pharisee, Jesus answered, “the ones who are whole do not need a physician, but the ones who are sick.” He gave them a minute to consider His first remark before continuing, “but go and learn what this is, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Jesus went on to explain passages from the book of Hosea. “Return to God, because you have been tried and torn and stricken, but God will heal you. When you follow God, you will know His ways. His word will drop down like rain, and you will see the latter and former rain upon the earth. O Judah, what more shall I do to you? For your goodness is like a morning cloud, and as the early dew that goes away. So I have cut them down by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth. But your judgments will be as the light that goes forth. For I desired mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” That day Jesus taught them many things about the Kingdom of Heaven, God’s love for everyone including tax collectors. What it means to have mercy and compassion. How respect and love for God is to be shown in all their deeds and actions. Jesus also gave them the promise of salvation and eternal life. From that day forward tax collecting took on a different form.
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